Supreme Court seeks center’s affidavit on steps being taken for OTT regulation

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Central Government to inform what it proposes to do to regulate Over the Top(OTT) platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+Hotstar etc.

A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India asked the Union Ministry to file reply to the PIL filed by Advocate Shashank Shekhar Jha seeking the establishment of an autonomous body to regulate online streaming apps.

When the matter was taken on Tuesday, the bench was initially inclined to ask the petitioner to withdraw the petition and approach the Ministry with a representation. The bench proposed to do this under the impression that the Centre has finalized its steps to regulate OTT platforms.

When the bench asked the Centre about the steps taken by it, the Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain replied that the measures are under “contemplation” and were “yet to be finalized”.

“We cannot accept mere contemplation. Everybody contemplates”, the CJI replied in a lighter vein.

The bench posted the petition after two weeks, instead of disposing it, and asked the Centre to file a reply affidavit on the steps being taken for OTT regulation.

Last week, another bench of the Supreme Court had issued notice on a petition filed by the Centre seeking transfer of cases relating to OTT regulation pending in various High Courts to the SC.

Recently, Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, told the Rajya Sabha that OTT guidelines are almost ready and will be notified soon.

Meanwhile, the OTT players came out with a code of conduct that will form the basis for self-regulation of content.

OTT giants like Netlflix and Prime Video have landed in controversies following complaints that series like ‘Leila’, ‘Paatal Lok’ etc, were showing Indian culture and the Central Government in poor light. Few months ago, an FIR was registered in Madhya Pradesh against Netfilix officials on the allegation that a kissing scene of the series ‘The Suitable Boy’ inside a temple offended religious sentiments.

Last month, the Supreme Court issued notice on a PIL seeking to ban ‘Mirzapur 2’, which is being streamed on Prime Video, on the ground that it was showing Uttar Pradesh in bad light. Also, few weeks back, the Supreme Court refused interim protection from arrest to the makers and actors of ‘Taandav series’ and the creative head of Prime Video in multiple FIRs registered against them in several states alleging that the show hurt Hindu religious sentiments. The top court orally remarked that an actor cannot play a role hurting religious sentiments. Live Law

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